A new research project, launched by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, will analyse public opinion towards media coverage of COVID-19.

As part of the recently announced “COVID-19 news and information project”, the Oxford-based Reuters Institute will gather data on how the public navigates news sources during the pandemic. The research will also identify how information is distributed by governments and other key organisations.

The study began in early April and preliminary data published on 28th April stated that 37% of the UK population were happy with media coverage of the pandemic.

A second factsheet, published on 5th May, expanded on these findings and showed a clear divide in public opinion. Of those surveyed, 30% believed the media had not been critical enough of the government response, 28% that coverage had been fair, and 29% that it had been too critical.

The short report also highlights the link between political orientation and perception of news outlets, as well as public concerns about false or misleading information. The Reuters Institute will continue to distribute surveys at two-week intervals in order to gain an overview of changing opinions and consumption habits.

The COVID-19 news and information project serves as a timely addition to existing research on attitudes toward the media. Last month the Reuters Institute announced the launch of the Trust in News Project. A $4million grant from the Facebook Journalism Project was secured earlier this year which will fund the independent research project.

The research will focus on trust in the context of digital news and look at trends in Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute, said: “The Trust in News Project is a unique new effort to understand the drivers of trust around news… and help identify actionable, evidence-based recommendations for how to demonstrate trustworthiness and build trust with different communities in different contexts.”

More information about the COVID-19 news and information project can be found here.